Please note that the poems and essays on this site are copyright and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

At Matanaka Farm

File:Matanaka - Granary, Privy & Schoolhouse.jpg

This granary, privy and schoolhouse at Matanaka [on the South Island] are New Zealand's oldest surviving farm buildings. The three largest buildings were prefabricated in Sydney, and the granary and stable still have their original "Patented Galvanised Tinned Iron" roofs. The stable has a harness room, stalls for the horses and a gig room. Fodder was stored in the loft and there was a dovecote in the loft at the north end. The storeroom was probably the place where bulk supplies were kept, since there are orders scribbled on the original interior lining. The granary stands, like the stable, on its original site. The privy, which was placed over a large pit, was once nearer the homestead. The school was originally a barn, here in the farmyard, but was shifted nearer to the house in the 19th century for use as a schoolroom. It was shifted back to the farmyard about the beginning of the 20th century. It is divided into a schoolroom and a room for the teacher: photo by Karora, 23 April 2008

This is not a memoir, so that
as we rolled over the small rise
and saw, set on
that bare hill, the plain

wooden farm buildings
painted a uniform
deep red, with faded
and lightly rusted corrugated

iron roofs, and tawny
grasses swaying all about
against the two
tone blue of sea and sky,

we knew
no one would remember
we had once
seen these things.

Matanaka farm building, Otago, New Zealand: photo by travelling light (Derek Smith and Maclean Barker), 30 August 2004


Anonymous said...

love the images...and I am thinking now how a remembrance may turn into a memoir...


"not a memoir" but a beautiful poem, and photo -- thanks.


light coming into fog against invisible
plane of ridge, red-tailed hawk calling
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

somewhat grey, consequently
which the second time

is, the more conspicuous it
remains, such that is

white circle of sun in fog above ridge,
lines of waves breaking across channel

Nin Andrews said...

Yes, beautiful!
Funny-I talked about memoir at AWP
at least theoretically I did . . .
which was interesting
bc I don't do memoir.

That aside (forgive me, I am still in recovery)
beautiful poem and photos.

Nora said...


Nora said...

Is this near where Angelica lived in New Zealand?

TC said...

Many thanks to all.


A. grew up in Ngaio, a suburb of Wellington, which is located at the southernmost tip of the North Island.

Whereas Matanaka is located on the South Island, nearer to Antarctica.

And the history of the place pictured here is this:

"Matanaka Farm was founded by the Australian whaler Johnny Jones, who had bought the land and an adjoining whaling station in 1838. In April 1840, he brought out about twelve families from Sydney on the Magnet to settle the farm. The first buildings, including the stables, were built in 1840, using materials brought from Sydney. There are accounts from 1841 that mention a collection of barns and accommodation buildings, which allows researchers to date the buildings to that period. Jones himself moved into the farm's homestead in 1843. His wife, Sarah Sizemore, was said to be known as Cherry, and the nearby Cherry Farm is apparently named for her.

"When the settlement of Dunedin began in 1848, Jones supplied the new settlers with produce at a 'good price'. The Jones family moved to Dunedin for the better education opportunities for their children in 1854. Johnny Jones' son William Jones lived at Matanaka Farm until 1858, and it was passed on to the next generation, John Richard Jones and his wife Mary Orbell, who had Matanake Farm as their home until 1871. Mary Orbell's brother, McLeod Orbell, then leased the farm until 1878.

"In February 1878, Matanaka Farm was sold to George McLean. In the late 1880s, McLean leased the farm to Orbell again. Ownership passed in 1892 to the farmer Alexander Bannatyne, whose family owned the farm until 1961. After brief ownership by two individuals, the farm was purchased by Monty Ericson in 1965. The Ericson family gave the Matanaka Farm buildings to the New Zealand Historic Places Trust in 1976. The setting was gazetted as an historic reserve in 1981."

TC said...

Further local lore is provided by our inhouse Kiwi, who refers us to a poem writ by Robert Creeley upon a 1976 vsit to Dunedin, in Otago (where, by the way, he met Penelope Highton, whom he would later marry).

Doggie Bags

Don't take
the steak
I ain't


The dishes
to the sink
if you've


else to go
no I'm not


Ever if
again home
no roam
(at the inn)


(from Hello)

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

Beautiful and I’m immediately reminded of this beauty by George Oppen.

Wooden Boy said...

Not a memoir: I'm very glad that you've dropped that picture here to disappear in our heads.

I'm not remembering and it's beautiful.

TC said...

Many thanks, discerning ones.

My guess would be that all memoirs are constructed fictions, all attempts at remembrance graspings after vapours, and all primary experiences essentially private and solitary in nature -- the more intense, the more difficult to accurately transmit to those outside ourselves.

But the camera doesn't lie, and in the present case we may be pretty certain those very red buildings were/are actually there, and that very blue water was/is really wet.